Love Flourishes on New U.S. Forever Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service today celebrated love of all kinds with the dedication of the Love Flourishes forever stamp during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Creativation conference held at the Phoenix, Arizona Convention Center. The conference, sponsored by the Association For Creative Industries, is a trade show for all aspects of the arts-and-crafts business.

Love Flourishes is the latest stamp in the popular Love series, which began 45 years ago. The stamp is being sold in panes of 20.

The stamp art features a fanciful garden of colorful flowers surrounding the word “Love” written in cursive script. Hand-painted by artist Anna Bond, the flower garden includes stylized roses, peonies and dahlias in pink, coral and yellow, with pale blue-green berries and fold fronds and leaves.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with Bond’s original art.

Postal Rates Due to Increase January 21

New U.S. postal rates due to begin January 21 affect most, though not all, mailing classes.

First-class domestic 1-ounce letter rate and postcard rates, which each rise by a penny to 50 cents and 35 cents, respectively, are among the rising postage rates.

Also rising will be metered first-class mail, from 46 cents to 47 cents, along with all basic shipping charges, which are rising 5 cents per rate across the board. The shipping rates include Priority Mail small flat-rate box and padded flat-rate envelope, which will rise to $7.20 and $7.25, respectively.

Two rates that are not due to rise include the additional ounce (or second ounce) first-class letter rate, which stays at 21 cents, and the international 1-ounce letter rate, which remains at $1.15.

Any appropriate forever stamps purchased at lower prices are, of course, valid for all the new rates. Forever stamps originally released to accommodate former rates will now be sold at the new price. For example, a booklet of 10 Flag stamps originally issued in 2016 and sold for $4.90 will cost $5 if purchased from the U.S. Postal Service starting January 21.

The U.S. Postal Service filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission on October 6 of the price changes, which still need formal approval.

The proposed prices would raise Mailing Services product prices approximately 1.9 percent, and most Shipping Services products will average a 3.9 percent price increase, the Postal Service said in a news release. While Mailing Services price increases are limited based on the Consumer Price Index, Shipping Services prices are adjusted strategically, according to market conditions and the need to maintain affordable services for customers, the USPS stated.

The following chart lists all of the main mailing rate changes, according to the USPS:

Product Current New
Letters (1 oz.) 49 cents 50 cents
Letters additional ounces 21 cents 21 cents
Letters (metered) 46 cents 47 cents
Outbound International Letters (1 oz.) $1.15 $1.15
Domestic Postcards 34 cents 35 cents

The proposed domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail price changes are:

Product Current Proposed
Small Flat Rate Box $7.15 $7.20
Medium Flat Rate Box $13.60 $13.65
Large Flat Rate Box $18.85 $18.90
APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box $17.35 $17.40
Regular Flat Rate Envelope $6.65 $6.70
Legal Flat Rate Envelope $6.95 $7.00
Padded Flat Rate Envelope $7.20 $7.25

President Trump Targets Postal Service in Morning Tweet

WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, President Trump took to Twitter to voice concerns about the United States Postal Service.

He wrote, “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!”

President Trump Tweet

It is unclear if Amazon is the source of the Postal Service’s financial troubles because the details of any deals between the Postal Service and retail giant are confidential, and the financial troubles of the Postal Service are often attributed to the requirement that it pre-fund its employee’s health insurance benefits and to the decreasing volume of first-class mail.

According to a Forbes article, shipping industry analyst David Vernon “estimated…that Amazon pays the USPS $2 per package, which is about half of what it would pay United Parcel Service and FedEx.”

The Forbes article noted that Postal Service chief financial officer Joseph Corbett “wrote in a post for PostalReporter.com in August that the [Postal Service] is required by law to charge retailers at least enough to cover its delivery costs.”

In 2013, the Postal Service made an agreement with Amazon to deliver packages on Sundays. The Postal Service also provides “last-mile” delivery for the retailer.

The Postal Service offered no comment in response to the tweet.

While Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced postal reform legislation in January, Congress has made no recent moves to reform the Postal Service.

by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW

Lena Horne and Mister Rogers Among 10 New Stamps Scheduled for First Quarter

The U.S. Postal Service has released issue dates and cities for 10 stamps to be issued in the first quarter of 2018. All are single-stamp issues with the exception of the 10-stamp Bioluminescent Life issue.

The year’s first stamp will be the Year of the Dog Lunar New Year forever stamp scheduled for a January 11 release in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other stamps (all are first-class forever stamps unless noted), first-day dates and locations are:

Love Flourishes, which is part of the ongoing Love series, January 18, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Byodo-In Temple, a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, $6.70 Priority Mail, January 21, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, a national park in Michigan, American Landmarks series, $24.70 Priority Mail Express, January 21, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Meyer Lemons, ongoing Fruits definitive, 2 cents, January 19, in Kenner, Louisiana, the first day of the Crescent City Stamp Club’s two-day Winter Stamp Fest and Postcard Show.

Lena Horne, part of the Black Heritage series, January 30, New York City.

U.S. Flag, February 9, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The date coincides with the first day of the three-day American Stamp Dealers Association Winter Postage Stamp Show.

Bioluminescent Life, 10 stamps, February 22 in Fort Pierce, Florida, home of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Illinois Statehood, March 5, in Springfield, Illinois, the state capital.

Mister Rogers, children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers (1928–2003), March 23, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Celebrating Lunar New Year Stamp Series Continues with Year of the Dog

The U.S. Postal Service kicks off its 2018 stamp program in January with a Lunar New Year forever stamp celebrating the Year of the Dog.

The stamp will be formally issued January 11 at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Year of the Dog begins February 16 and ends February 4, 2019.

This is the 11th of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which features primary art from illustrator Kam Mak, a Hong Kong-born artist who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn.

The stamps in the current series, designed by Ethel Kessler, also incorporate elements from a previous Lunar New Year series: Clarence Lee’s intricate cut-paper design of a dog, and the Chinese character for “dog,” drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun. Those elements graced U.S. Lunar New Year stamps issued found in stamps issued from 1992 through 2004.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage.

The U.S. Postal Service introduced its Celebrating Lunar New Year series, with stamps featuring artwork from Mak, in 2008. The series will continue through 2019 with a stamp for the Year of the Boar. Year of the Dog is being issued as a souvenir sheet of 12 self-adhesive Forever stamps.

The Year of the Dog illustration, originally created using oil paints on panel, depicts an arrangement of lucky bamboo (Dracaena braunii). To the right is a lozenge-shaped piece of red paper with the Chinese character “fu,” meaning good fortune, rendered in calligraphy — a common decoration on doors and entryways during Lunar New Year festivities.

Previous Years of the Dog started in January or February of 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006.